In a city that loves debates, the Laguna Colony Resort has provided
its fair share of outrage. The planned resort where the Treasure Island
Motor Home Park once stood was too ritzy and snobby for Laguna’s folksy,
art-filled community, opponents said. It was also way too big.
A referendum three years ago proved how divided the city was over the
$150-million project: While 55% supported the plans for a 275-room luxury
hotel, 17 homes and 14 condominiums, 45% voted against them. It was
strong enough support, certainly, to move ahead with the construction,
but it’s far from a mandate. As other concessions were won from Athens
Group, the developer, support grew, but fervent opponents remained dead
set against the project.
More recently, residents were up in arms over plans by the Athens
Group to build an offshore mooring for 50-foot boats. The idea was
scuttled last fall because the city outlaws motor boats from coming to
shore, making access slow and difficult.
And now, it appears, another large, lingering dispute has been put to
rest. Last week, the City Council voted -- though not unanimously -- to
alter the agreement with Athens Group so the city’s cost for building the
area’s public park will be capped around $7.8 million, rather than rising
to $9.3 million. It’s a significant savings, though far from what the
city could have held onto if council members had decided to cap their
part of the costs at $175,000 much earlier in their talks with the
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. And we hope that when we all look back
on this decision by the council, this will be the point where residents
began appreciating the benefits of the project: more money for the arts
and our schools, not to mention the public park that promises to be a gem
in Orange County.